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Encyclopedia > Deva (Buddhism)
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Buddhism
Dharma wheel
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy focusing on the teachings of the Buddha Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), who probably lived in the 5th century BCE. Buddhism spread throughout the ancient Indian sub-continent in the five centuries following the Buddhas death, and propagated into Central, Southeast, and East Asia... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ...

History of Buddhism
Timeline of Buddhism
The history of Buddhism spans from the 6th century BCE to the present, starting with the birth of the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. ... 563 BCE: Siddhārtha Gautama, Buddha-to-be, is born in Lumbini, Ancient India. ...

Basic Concepts
Dependent Origination
Three Jewels
The Four Noble Truths
Noble Eightfold Path
Nirvāna
Several Buddhist terms and concepts lack direct translations into English that cover the breadth of the original term. ... The doctrine of Pratitya-samutpada (Sanskrit: pratītya-samutpāda, Pali: paticca samuppada Tibetan: rten cing brel bar byung ba) is Buddhisms primary contribution to metaphysics. ... The Triratna or Three Jewels symbol, on a Buddha footprint. ... The Four Noble Truths (Pali, cattari ariya saccani) are taught in Buddhism as the fundamental insight or enlightenment of Sakyamuni Buddha (the historical Buddha), which led to the formulation of the Buddhist philosophy. ... The Noble Eightfold Path (Sanskrit Āryo ṣṭāṅgo mārgaḥ , Pāli Ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo) of Buddhism, as taught by the Buddha Śākyamuni, is the way to the cessation of suffering, the fourth part of the Four Noble Truths. ... This article is about a Buddhist philosophy concept. ...

Major Figures
Buddha
Bodhisattva
A number of noted individuals have been Buddhists. ... A stone image of the Buddha. ... Prince Siddhartha Gautama as a bodhisattva, before becoming a Buddha. ...

Buddhism by region
Southeast Asian Buddhism
Chinese Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Western Buddhism
Buddhist beliefs and practices vary according to region. ... Theravada (Pali; Sanskrit: Sthaviravada) is one of the eighteen (or twenty) Nikāya schools that formed early in the history of Buddhism. ... This article explores how Buddhism, a Indian origin, has affected and been affected by Chinese culture, politics, literature and philosophy. ... Tibetan Buddhism is the body of religious Buddhist doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet, the Himalayan region, Mongolia, Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmykia (Russia), and northeastern China (Manchuria: Heilongjiang, Jilin). ... A feature of Buddhism in the West has been the emergence of groups, which although they draw on traditional Buddhism, are in fact an attempt at creating a new style of Buddhist practice. ...

Schools of Buddhism
Theravāda
Mahāyāna
Vajrayāna
There are many divisions and subdivisions of the schools of Buddhism. ... Theravada (Pali; Sanskrit: Sthaviravada) is one of the eighteen (or twenty) Nikāya schools that formed early in the history of Buddhism. ... Relief image of the bodhisattva Kuan Yin from Mt. ... A mandala used in Vajrayana Buddhist practices. ...

Texts
Vinaya Pitaka
Sutta Pitaka
Abhidhamma Pitaka
There are a great variety of Buddhist texts. ... The Vinaya (a word in Pali as well as in Sanskrit, with literal meaning discipline) is the textual framework for the Buddhist monastic community, or sangha. ... The Sutta Pitaka (or Sutra Pitaka) is the second of three divisions of the Tipitaka, the great Pali collection of Buddhist writings. ... The abhidhamma is the name of one of the three pitakas, or baskets of tradition, into which the Tipitaka (Pali; Sanskrit: Tripitaka), the canon of early Buddhism, is divided. ...

Culture of Buddhism
The cultural elements of Buddhism vary by region and include: Buddhist cuisine Buddhist art Buddharupa Art and architecture of Japan Greco-Buddhism Tibetan Buddhist sacred art Buddhist music Buddhist chant Shomyo Categories: Buddhism-related stubs ...


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This article is about Buddhist deities. For other uses, see Deva (disambiguation).

A deva (Sanskrit and Pāli) in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, living more contentedly than the average human being. Deva a Hindu deity Deva is also a type of supernatural being in traditional Buddhist cosmology. ... Sanskrit ( संस्कृतम् ; pronunciation: ) is an Indo-European classical language of India and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. ... For the town and district in Rajasthan, see Pali, Rajasthan For the Ganapati temple of pali and place in Maharastra, see Ballaleshwar Pali Pāli (Devanagari पालि) is a Middle Indo-Aryan dialect or prakrit. ... Buddhism is a religion and philosophy focusing on the teachings of the Buddha Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), who probably lived in the 5th century BCE. Buddhism spread throughout the ancient Indian sub-continent in the five centuries following the Buddhas death, and propagated into Central, Southeast, and East Asia...


Synonyms in other languages include Tibetan lha, Chinese tiān, Korean cheon, Japanese ten. The Tibetan language is typically classified as member of the Tibeto-Burman which in turn is thought by some to be a branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. ...


Other words used in Buddhist texts to refer to similar supernatural beings are devatā "deity" and devaputra (Pāli: devaputta) "son of the gods". It is unclear what the distinction between these terms is.

Contents


Powers of the devas

From a human perspective, devas share the characteristic of being invisible to the physical human eye. The presence of a deva can be detected by those humans who have opened the divyacakṣus (Pāli: dibbacakkhu), an extrasensory power by which one can see beings from other planes. Their voices can also be heard by those who have cultivated a similar power of the ear.


Most devas are also capable of constructing illusory forms by which they can manifest themselves to the beings of lower worlds; higher and lower devas even have to do this between each other.


Devas do not require the same kind of sustenance as humans do, although the lower kinds do eat and drink. The higher sorts of deva shine with their own intrinsic luminosity.


Devas are also capable of moving great distances speedily and of flying through the air, although the lower devas sometimes accomplish this through magical aids such as a flying chariot.


Types of deva

Main article: Buddhist cosmology

The term deva does not refer to a natural class of beings, but is defined anthropocentrically to include all those beings more powerful or more blissful than humans. It includes some very different types of being, who can be ranked hierarchically. The lowest classes of these beings are closer in their nature to human beings than to the higher classes of deva. This page may meet Wikipedias criteria for speedy deletion. ...


The devas fall into three classes depending upon which of the three dhātus, or "realms" of the universe they are born in.


The devas of the Ārūpyadhātu have no physical form or location, and they dwell in meditation on formless subjects. They achieve this by attaining advanced meditational levels in another life. They do not interact with the rest of the universe. This page may meet Wikipedias criteria for speedy deletion. ...


The devas of the Rūpadhātu have physical forms, but are sexless and passionless. They live in a large number of "heavens" or deva-worlds that rise, layer on layer, above the earth. These can be divided into five main groups: This page may meet Wikipedias criteria for speedy deletion. ...

  • The Śuddhāvāsa devas are the rebirths of Anāgāmins, Buddhist religious practitioners who died just short of attaining the state of Arhat. They guard and protect Buddhism on earth, and will pass into enlightenment as Arhats when they pass away from the Śuddhāvāsa worlds. The highest of these worlds is called Akaniṣṭha.
  • The Bṛhatphala devas remain in the tranquil state attained in the fourth dhyāna.
  • The Śubhakṛtsna devas rest in the bliss of the third dhyāna.
  • The Ābhāsvara devas enjoy the delights of the second dhyāna.
  • The Brahmā devas (or simply Brahmās) participate in the more active joys of the first dhyāna. They are also more interested in and involved with the world below than any of the higher devas, and sometimes intervene with advice and counsel.

Each of these groups of deva-worlds contains different grades of devas, but all of those within a single group are able to interact and communicate with each other. On the other hand, the lower groups have no direct knowledge of even the existence of the higher types of deva at all. For this reason, some of the Brahmās have become proud, imagining themselves as the creators of their own worlds and of all the worlds below them (because they came into existence before those worlds began to exist). A garden featuring depictions of various arhats (Hsi Lai Temple, California) An arhat (Sanskrit, also arahat or arahant (Pali); Chinese: 阿羅漢, āluóhàn, luóhàn, lohan; Tibetan: dgra-bcom-pa; Jp. ... A garden featuring depictions of various arhats (Hsi Lai Temple, California) An arhat (Sanskrit, also arahat or arahant (Pali); Chinese: 阿羅漢, āluóhàn, luóhàn, lohan; Tibetan: dgra-bcom-pa; Jp. ... Dhyāna is a term in Sanskrit which refers to a type or aspect of meditation. ... A Brahmā in Buddhism is the generic name for a type of exalted, passionless deity, of which there are a very large number in Buddhist cosmology. ...


The devas of the Kāmadhātu have physical forms similar to, but larger than, those of humans. They lead the same sort of lives that humans do, though they are longer-lived and generally more content, indeed sometimes they are immersed in pleasures. This is the dhātu that Māra has greatest influence over. This page may meet Wikipedias criteria for speedy deletion. ... An aniconic representation of Maras assault on the Buddha, 2nd century CE, Amaravati (India). ...


The higher devas of the Kāmadhātu live in four heavens that float in the air, leaving them free from contact with the strife of the lower world. They are:

  • The Parinirmita-vaśavartin devas, luxurious devas to whom Māra belongs;
  • The Nirmāṇarati devas;
  • The Tuṣita devas, among whom the future Maitreya lives;
  • The Yāma devas.

The lower devas of the Kāmadhātu live on different parts of the mountain at the center of the world, Sumeru. They are even more passionate than the higher devas, and do not simply enjoy themselves but also engage in strife and fighting. They are: Maitreya Bodhisattva is the future Buddha in Buddhist eschatology. ...

  • The Trāyastriṃśa devas, who live on the peak of Sumeru and are something like the Olympian gods. Their ruler is Śakra.
  • The Cāturmahārājikakāyika devas, who include the martial kings who guard the four quarters of the Earth. They are ruled by [[Vaisravana|Vaiśravaṇa, but are ultimately accountable to Śakra. They also include four types of earthly demigod or nature-spirit: Kumbhāṇḍas, Gandharvas, Nāgas and Yakṣas.

Sometimes included among the devas, and sometimes placed in a different category, are the Asuras, the opponents of the preceding two groups of devas, whose nature is to be continually engaged in war. The Heaven of the Thirty-three gods is the name of an important heaven, or devaloka in Buddhist cosmology. ... It has been suggested that Four Guardian Gods be merged into this article or section. ... In Hinduism, the Gandharvas are male nature spirits, husbands of the Apsaras. ... The nagas ( snake) are an ancient race of snake-humanoid beings first depicted in ancient Vedic Hindu mythology and oral folklore from at least 5000 B.C.E. Stories involving the Nagas are still very much a part of contemporary cultural traditions in predominantly Hindu (India, Nepal, and the island... Greek scroll supported by Indian Yaksha, Amaravati, 3rd century CE, Tokyo National Museum. ... Asura in Buddhism is the name of the lowest ranks of the deities of the Kāmadhātu. ...


Humans are said to have originally had many of the powers of the devas: not requiring food, the ability to fly through the air, and shining by their own light. Over time they began to eat solid foods, their bodies became coarser and their powers disappeared.


Devas vs. gods

Although the word deva is generally translated "god" (or, very occasionally, "angel") in English, Buddhist devas differ from the "gods", "God", or "angels" of western religions past and present in many important ways.

  • Buddhist devas are not immortal. They live for very long but finite periods of time, ranging from thousands to billions of years. When they pass away, they are reborn as some other sort of being, perhaps a different type of deva, perhaps a human or something else.
  • Buddhist devas do not create or shape the world. They come into existence based upon their past karmas and they are as much subject to the natural laws of cause and effect as any other being in the universe. They also have no role in the periodic dissolutions of worlds.
  • Buddhist devas are not incarnations of a few archetypal deities or manifestations of a all-embracing pantheistic One. Nor are they merely symbols. They are considered to be, like humans, distinct individuals with their own personalities and paths in life.
  • Buddhist devas are not omniscient. Their knowledge is inferior to that of a fully enlightened Buddha, and they especially lack awareness of beings in worlds higher than their own.
  • Buddhist devas are not all-powerful. Their powers tend to be limited to their own worlds, and they rarely intervene in human affairs. When they do, it is generally by way of quiet advice than by physical intervention.
  • Buddhist devas are not morally perfect. The devas of the worlds of the Rūpadhātu do lack human passions and desires, but are capable of ignorance, arrogance and pride. The devas of the lower worlds of the Kāmadhātu experience the same kind of passions that humans do, including (in the lowest of these worlds), lust, jealousy, and anger. It is, indeed, their imperfections in the mental and moral realms that cause them to be reborn in these worlds.
  • Buddhist devas are not to be worshipped. While some individuals among the devas may be beings of great moral authority and prestige and thus deserving of a high degree of respect, no deva can be a refuge or show the way of escape from saṃsāra or control one's rebirth. The highest honors are reserved to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha.

Karma (Sanskrit karman) or Kamma (Pāli) means action or doing; whatever one does, says, or thinks is a karma. ... A stone image of the Buddha. ... Taking Refuge makes the difference between Buddhists and non-Buddhists. ... Saṃsāra, the Sanskrit and Pāli term for continous movement or continuous flowing refers in Buddhism to the concept of a cycle of birth (jāti) and consequent decay and death (jarāmaraṇa), in which all beings in the universe participate and which can only be escaped... The Triratna or Three Jewels symbol, on a Buddha footprint. ...

Confused with devas

The world of Buddhist meditation and practice includes several types of being that are often called "gods", but are distinct from the devas.

  • Bodhisattvas – A bodhisattva may be a deva in a particular life, but bodhisattvas are not essentially devas, and if they happen to be devas it is only in the course of being born in many different worlds over time. A bodhisattva is as likely to be born as a human or as an animal, and is only distinguished from other beings by the certainty that eventually, after many lives, the bodhisattva will be reborn as a Buddha. For example, the current bodhisattva of the Tuṣita heaven is now a deva. In his next life, however, he will be reborn as a human – the Buddha Maitreya. Advanced Bodhisattvas are also capable of manifesting themselves in a great variety of forms, including the forms of devas, depending upon the circumstances.
  • Yidams – These meditational deities sometimes take the form of ordinary devas and sometimes appear as manifestations of bodhisattvas, but they are in all cases to be taken as manifestations of enlightened mind with which the meditator intends to unite.
  • Buddhas – A Nirmāṇakāya Buddha (physically manifesting Buddha) is always a human and not a deva, as the right conditions for attaining supreme enlightenment do not exist in the deva-worlds. A Sambhogakāya Buddha has the form of a very high-ranking deva, but does not exist within the universe, subject to birth and death, as all the devas do. The Dharmakāya is beyond all worlds and limitations.

Prince Siddhartha Gautama as a bodhisattva, before becoming a Buddha. ... A stone image of the Buddha. ... Maitreya Bodhisattva is the future Buddha in Buddhist eschatology. ... This article needs cleanup. ... A stone image of the Buddha. ...

See also

A Brahmā in Buddhism is the generic name for a type of exalted, passionless deity, of which there are a very large number in Buddhist cosmology. ... Asura in Buddhism is the name of the lowest ranks of the deities of the Kāmadhātu. ...

 
 

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